March 17 2009 20:30 PST
By: Anita Chatterjee
Sonu Niigaam is the man of the moment in the Hindi music industry today! Check out the exclusive interview with Sonu below.
AC: You have been in the Hindi Music industry since around 1991. I'm sure you have seen a lot of changes since then. How has it evolved?
Sonu: When I came to Mumbai from Delhi at age of 18 in 1991 there was no television channels or music companies to promote an album. So at that time, if you wanted to be in the industry, the best way to get into it was to pursue a career as a playback singer (singing for actors who would lip-sync the songs in Bollywood films). That was the aim of every singer.
The rest of the world was very different from how India worked back then. In other countries you could feature your own sound and get exposure through different music companies. You wouldn't have to depend on cinema. That's how India has been for more than 60 years. Now things have changed. Channels have given musicians more exposure. I hosted one of the biggest music reality shows in Asia, "Sa Re Gama," which really gave artists more exposure.
Now, you also see private as well as Bollywood albums in the market. I personally have done several private albums as well as Bollywood and Indie pop so things are changing. Also, a lot of avenues have opened up for singers such as songs for television, music videos, and an increase with music reality shows. In 1991 you had to be a really good singer to sing. Today, with all the technological advances it has become possible for people who cannot sing well to do it and that seems to happen a lot.
AC: Wouldn't you say that Bollywood films still dominate the music industry?
Sonu: Bollywood films still dominate but there is also a huge emphasis on events and television as well.
AC: Do you have any personal favorite Bollywood actors you like to sing for?
Sonu: I love to sing for Shahrukh and Salman but really I am a musician and I don't necessarily sing a song for the actor.
AC: What do you think of Bollywood movies embracing other genres of music like Hip-Hop and Rock?
Sonu: Well everyone is trying to embrace different kinds of music and they want to be more commercial. Indian film music has changed a lot in terms of style and arrangement. I think it is cool that genres like Hip-Hop are really showing up in the music now, just for some variety.
AC: What do you think about all the Collaborations like Snoop Dogg and RDB in Singh is Kinng?
Sonu: I am very happy that India is getting so much respect from other countries and collaborations are happening.
AC: Did you like the Pussycat Dolls "Jai Ho" Remix?
Sonu: I was one of the first to hear the Jai Ho remix. A.R. Rahman called me into the studio to listen to it and I loved it.
AC: Which artist from the west which you like to collaborate with?
Sonu: Well there are a lot of people I listen to and I think they are really good like John Legend, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna, Norah Jones. Nicole from the Pussycat Dolls is a good singer as well. I would love to do a song with the Black Eyed Peas and a lot of other rappers. I would love to work with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake.
AC: I hear you are working with A.R. Rahman and Kylie Minogue on the film, "Blue", can you tell me about it?
Sonu: I can say is that Kylie, me and A.R. Rahman worked on a track for the film and I sang for Akshay Kumar.
AC: So what's next for Sonu Niigaam?
Sonu: I have lived my life in a daze and I don't know how my fifteen years in the industry have passed. For the past two years, I have cracked down on the projects I work on and I am extremely cautious of the projects I pick. I am really trying to focus on quality now and not quantity. I don't want to exhaust myself. I am currently working on '3 Idiots', 'Ravan' and 'Blue' and I am working on some collaboration offers from the US. I will also be working on something with Jim Beanz from Timbaland's camp in Mumbai.
AC: Do you have a message you want to give to our readers?
Sonu: Yes, always do good deeds, do not ever behave mediocre in life. Remember that music is something very pure and we must respect and acknowledge good music in the world. There are people in the world that are blessed with good talent and they should use it. Lastly, I think your site is doing a great job by creating these collaborations between artists in India with ones in the US. I wish Desi Hits! the best.